Featuring the very most beautiful plants and flowers from around the world, festivals and events like the RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2014 are sure to inspire the green-fingered nature-lover within. Make this the year you finally spruce up the garden with a few more exotic touches and discover the horticulture of the most picture-perfect springtime destinations on the planet!
Colourful Classics from The Netherlands
Beautifully bright and cheap to plant, tulips are already a firm favourite in gardens up and down the country. The Dutch however have tulip-growing down to a fine art – entire fields of the flowers prove that the best way to impress with these gorgeous plants is to go plentiful. The most striking patterns in Dutch gardens are multi-coloured, with tulips of all shades making up incredibly vast rainbows made just from flowers.
This has to be one of the worst kept secrets in gardening – visitors to Amsterdam have long been taking amazing tours of the tulip fields that surround the vibrant Dutch capital. For a truly memorable garden however, look no further than Keukenhof – a short distance south of Amsterdam, its 32 hectares make it the world’s second largest garden. A team of gardeners plant 7 million bulbs a year at Keukenhof, and The Garden of Europe is full to bursting with dazzling tulips, hyacinths and daffodils during the spring months; if that doesn’t inspire you to give your flowerbeds a makeover this year, nothing will!
The Lush Hills and Long Fields of Italy
Easily one of the most beautiful holiday destinations in the springtime, central Italy has rolling green hills and plush vegetation peppering its rich, terracotta earth. Between the grape vines of the Chianti region, the olive groves and the distinctive cypress trees, Tuscany is simply picture-perfect come May, and remains that way for much of the summer. The hardy cypress tree – also a permanent feature in many of the UK’s stately gardens – is the perfect addition to your garden this season.
If you’ve ever visited divine Florence or pretty Pisa, Tuscany’s premier destinations, you’ll have spotted the brilliant and creative topiary that the humble cypress tree can be transformed into. To see a more simple Italian influence in your garden this spring, why not look to the similarly spectacular Umbria region just a short distance away. Whole fields of dark orange poppies give the surrounding landscape its unique colour; what’s more, they’re exceedingly easy to grow back at home too!
Spring in Washington, Autumn in New York
New York City is a magical city and an exciting holiday destination at any time of year, but there’s one place that really trumps it in the springtime; Washington DC looks utterly breath-taking during the months of April and May. Cherry Blossom trees, a gift from Japan in the early part of the 20th century, are celebrated in the joyous National Cherry Blossom Festival each spring, and they look stunning. A flurry of pretty pink petals, swirling in the breeze against the backdrop of the capitol’s pristine marble monuments, make for the ideal photo opportunity.
Handily, these spectacular trees can be planted anytime during the year given the right care and attention – plant one now, and enjoy the splendour of Washington’s gorgeous trees year after year. New York, a mere two hour train journey from DC, is great for a show in any season but is best seen in Autumn, when the leaves in Central Park have turned golden and the city’s lights can illuminate the city in the early evenings.
Conquering the Post-Spring Blues
If the thought of autumn in New York doesn’t sound appealing, just remember that spring is always right around the corner somewhere in the world! Whether it’s the astounding beauty of the wildflowers in Namaqualand near Cape Town in South Africa, or the ornately pretty orchids that grow in Western Australia, you can always find inspiration in the gardens of the world the whole year round!
Michael Middleton is a travel writer and enthusiast. Having blogged his way around Europe, North America, South-East Asia and Australia, Michael has a special expertise in seeking out the best cuisine, sights and cinemas around the world. His next trip this summer is to 2016’s European City of Culture, San Sebastian in the Spanish Basque Country.